Cavaliers top Blue Jays in overtime, 11-10
First win against rival Hopkins for men's lacrosse since 2010
The 10th-ranked Virginia men’s lacrosse team snapped its two game losing streak Saturday, defeating No. 11 Johns Hopkins. The Cavaliers trailed the Blue Jays for the majority of the second half, but were able to force overtime thanks in large part to a brilliant performance by freshman goalkeeper Matt Barrett, who made 16 saves.
Both teams were coming off their first losses of the season. The Cavaliers (7-2, 1-1 ACC) fell in back to back games against ranked opponents — including a 18-9 loss to conference foe Notre Dame — and Hopkins (5-2) narrowly fell to Syracuse a week ago.
“This was a great turn around win,” sophomore midfielder Greg Coholan said. “We’ve been battling the last two weeks, working hard in practice, working on the little things like groundballs, which showed today.”
Virginia started strong, scoring the game’s first three goals. However, Johns Hopkins offense settled down half way through the first quarter and started to put pressure on the Cavalier defense. Momentum fully shifted in favor of the Blue Jays when sophomore attackman James Pannell committed an illegal body check that put the Cavaliers a man-down for a full two minutes, leading to two Johns Hopkins goals and a tie game at 4-4.
Pannell made up for his mistake early in the second quarter when Johns Hopkins was penalized for a slash. The sophomore wasted little time giving the Cavaliers the lead, as he fired a rocket that beat the goaltender under his stick. The lead would be short lived, however, as the Blue Jays quickly responded to even the score.
The rest of the half followed this trend as well: Virginia would take the lead only to have Hopkins even the score seconds later. In the final minute however, the Blue Jays took control when they were awarded a questionable extra man opportunity, scoring with 40 seconds left in the half to take their first lead.
“Hopkins is a good team, so I certainly thought before the game it was going to be a tight game the whole way through,” coach Dom Starsia said.
Sophomore attackman Ryan Brown — Hopkins’ leading scorer — rifled a shot through traffic at the 13:32 mark to push the lead to two. But Virginia’s leading scorer, senior attackman Mark Cockerton, answered Brown’s goal with a strike of his own less than a minute later.
The tide began to shift back to Virginia’s favor with just less than 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Senior midfielder Bobby Hill perfectly executed a stick check to gain possession, and flicked the ball to senior defenseman Scott McWilliams who charged down the field and found Pannell wide open to bring the score to 9-8. The goal energized a packed Klöckner Stadium and gave life to the Virginia comeback bid: the defense stopped allowing quality chances and when the Blue Jays were able to get a shot off, Barrett made sure to cover the entire net.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Blue Jays began a slow, deliberate attack on the Cavalier defense to keep the ball out of the sticks of Virginia’s dangerous offense. For the first five minutes of the period, the strategy paid dividends, and Hopkins was able to stretch the lead to two again and Virginia couldn’t get anything going on attack.
“When we were down two in the second half there, I thought we were always battling and I give a lot of credit to our guys for that,” Starsia said.
However, with eight minutes remaining, Cockerton fought hard for a ground ball that freed up freshman attackman Ryan Lukacovic for an easy goal. Just three minutes later, Pannell made a pivotal defensive play, forcing a Hopkins midfielder out of bounds to give Virginia the ball. On the ensuing possession, Lukacovic took the ball from behind the goal and swiftly turned around and flicked home the tying goal.
“I knew that if he got to come in, he would make an impact,” Barrett said. “It was awesome to see him get the first one, but for him to get two … it was just awesome.”
With the score knotted at 10, the Cavaliers took a page out of the Hopkins’ playbook and initiated a calculated attack on the Blue Jay goal. Though the strategy did produce a couple of quality scoring chances, Hopkins senior goaltender Eric Schneider continued his stellar play and stonewalled Cockerton and company.
Barrett was forced to be equally effective, and he stood up to the challenge by making a beautiful stick save with just over a minute remaining. The Blue Jays retained possession with 55 seconds left and called a timeout to draw up a play. The staunch Cavalier defense immediately forced a turnover to give Virginia a chance to win, but the team was unable to convert and and the lone shot went far wide of the goal.
“I just tried to focus a little more in practice this week,” Barrett said. “Our defense played really well, kept the shots out far, so I do have to give it to the defense.”
Virginia won the overtime faceoff and immediately seized a quality chance to end the game. Junior midfielder Ryan Tucker let off a laser of a shot that easily beat Schneider and caused Klöckner to erupt. Unfortunately, the cheers drowned the sound of the referee’s whistle out, and the goal was washed out because of an offside call.
On the other end, the Cavalier defense stood tall and took the ball away to allow Virginia another opportunity to win the game, this time not squandering the opportunity. With just more than a minute remaining, Coholan found himself open and unleashed a hard underhand shot that ended the game.
“I got the ball behind and went hard to my right and hit the brakes coming up the side,” Coholan said. “No one came to me so I saw the open shot and took it.”
Virginia is back in action Monday when they take on VMI. Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Klöckner Stadium.